Director of Nutrition Services
St. Ann’s Hospital Mt. Carmel
Hometown: Marengo, Ohio
Education: B.S., dietetics, University of Kentucky, Richmond, M.S., Science Administration, Central Michigan University
Single. Lives in Columbus, Ohio with Jake, a Wheaton Terrier
Janet Baker grew up helping her parents in the family vegetable garden at their two-acre home in the small town of Marengo, Ohio. Now as an adult, she is continuing the tradition at her own home in Columbus, Ohio, with a garden full of perennials. Now, Baker discusses her green thumb and the calming effect gardening brings her.
“When I bought my home in 1985, the yard needed to be cleaned up, and my garden has just expanded ever since. I am always working on it and adding new parts. Last year I put in a pond with a waterfall to add the peaceful sound of water. I was also able to talk a neighbor into removing his huge honeysuckle bush so I could develop a neglected corner of my front yard. Here, I featured a tricolor beech tree with daylilies in several shades of red, from pink to burgundy, a pink globe amaranthus and a huge pink rock.
Gardening is fun. It’s an opportunity for me to be creative and it gives me a sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, there are no weeds, the beds are mulched and I have a beautiful display of flowers. When I am working in the garden, I can just focus on the planning of the garden and the physical work and I can put all the problems from the hospital out of my mind. The plants don’t talk back; they don’t call off work; they don’t argue; they are never dissatisfied customers; and I don’t need a committee to be able to garden.
After a long winter, it makes me feel good to have a yard full of daffodils, tulips and crocuses and throughout the summer I enjoy spending evenings in the backyard listening to the waterfall in my pond, watching the hummingbirds flit from plant to plant, with a good book and a glass of wine. During early spring, my favorite part is the front flowerbed that is massed with daffodils, tulips and crocuses. Late spring, it’s the corner of my backyard that is dedicated to Ohio native wildflowers such as
I love going to garden centers to shop for new varieties. It’s relaxing to be surrounded by the colors and the earthy scents. I shop not only for plants, but for the right yard art to complement my flowerbeds. It’s exciting to plan new beds or to rearrange old ones. I have to study the plant books and make a list of new flowers I just have to have for my garden.
I love watching the hummingbirds flit around and listening to the hum of their wings. My mother loves feeding the birds and tracking the different varieties that stop by her feeder. I began collecting a list of plants that attract hummingbirds, which led me to research plants that attract butterflies to plant at my mother’s house. We had a butterfly weed that had 20 monarch butterflies on it. Because of the increase of insecticides, the butterfly population is challenged. So I try to give them plants that help them thrive, such as milkweed. What I discovered is that some of my favorite perennials are the most attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.
Through our dietitian, we realized many of the hospital system’s dietitians were avid gardeners. We formed a garden club and we meet at people’s homes to see their gardens, offer advice, share plants and socialize. We had a meeting where I featured edible flowers, so I continued the theme in food. I served chicken salad-stuffed daylilies; salad with bees’ balm petals and violas; canapés with flowers; and lavender cookies. At another gathering I featured various varieties of basils in food.
The garden club has also done some fundraising work. We got together and potted perennials, and had a sale in the hospital cafeteria as a fundraiser for Operation Feed, an organization that provides food for needy families in Central Ohio. At the hospital I am the coordinator for the American Heart Association Heart Walk Fundraiser, and we raised $1,500 selling annuals from a local plant wholesaler for the association.”